I traveled much of the world looking for something, wandering to and fro like a blind man, searching, seeking…
Every new thing I took hold of satisfied only for a season, then proved fruitless. A new place, a new venture, a new hobby, a new course of study, a new direction…always something new. Looking for truth. Looking for meaning. Where was it to be found?
Books were my bastion. I read everything I could get my hands on. Old books, new books, good books, bad books, comic books, instruction books, screenplays, scripts, poetry, history, philosophy… Ah, philosophy…now that was the ticket…so I filled my shelf with books.
I went from one to the next, poring over the pages, organizing, categorizing, building upon, knocking down, adding to, subtracting from, improvising…spreading my own philosophical wings. A custom code. One tailored just for me. Now I was wise. Now I had it all. Move over Aristotle, there’s a new kid on the block! I even wrote books of my own. Such was my pride.
Failure met me at every turn. I failed in my business, I failed with my talents, I failed in my communities, always running somewhere else, looking for that place where I could thrive, so wise in my own mind. Where was this elusive city of fortune and fame that awaited me? How many rainbows must be chased to find that pot of gold? And what must be given up in the pursuit?
I could have won a world title as a tree climber, but I didn’t. I could have won a logrolling world championship, but I didn’t. I could have embarked on a career as a young man and stuck to it, providing for family and friends, a small pillar in a community that holds its place and function, grand or humble, it matters not…but I didn’t. I could have built a business from the ground up, something to put my labor into, something to care for, something to pass on down the line someday, but I didn’t.
It was easier to just go on living as I liked, searching and dreaming and running and reading more books, to try to make sense of it all, adopting more philosophy and fitting it to the only thing I had truly built, a city of pride. Here a dream, there a venture, a building half finished then abandoned, twenty more of the like, garden plots of weeds, scattered cobblestones and bricks, ruined walls… But was I not wise? Was not my shelf full of books? Was not my own book upon that shelf? Full speed ahead!
I lost my health. I lost my marriage. I lost my children. I lost my dreams. I lost my youth. My beard started showing grey, but I still had what nobody else had, right? Wisdom. Truth. Philosophy. A custom philosophy, no less. Nobody else seemed to understand. Nobody else seemed to care. Pride was the only crown I had left to wear, and by golly I was going to wear it! King of a broken city perhaps, but king nonetheless.
And then I read the Bible
Just sat down one day in my troubles and read the words. What they actually said. The Bible showed me my prideful heart. It showed me I had no rule over my spirit. It showed me I was like a city broken down, and without walls. It showed me that I was a sinner before a just and Holy God! I was lost and bound for hell and I deserved it. The Bible broke me.
And it pointed me to Jesus, the only one who could save me from death and ruin. I went to Jesus that day and he saved me. A wretched sinner saved by the grace of God.
Were it not for Jesus I would be lost. Life has continued to be a struggle. When seeds of wickedness are sown they bear fruit. I made my bed and now I must sleep in it. And perfect understanding does not come in a day. I failed in another marriage, much to my shame. But Jesus has not forsaken me, blessed be his name.
So I returned home, again. Linn County Oregon. No more running to and fro in search of wisdom and answers and that phantom pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. What I went looking for wasn’t someplace else. The Bible showed me what I was looking for. Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. The ONLY way.
And about that bookshelf? I cleared it off. Threw all those books and their philosophy out the door. Now I just have one book on my shelf. The Bible.
And I let it be the rule of my life.